Tuesday, September 30, 2014

I'm Blackmailing The New England Patriot Fan Base

Ka Ching
Hopefully, I have your attention now.

Remember 2008, kids? That was the year in which your Hall of Fame to be QB went down in the first quarter of the first game, when Bernard Pollard and the Kansas City Chiefs turns your man into a bystander for the rest of the year. That was the worst year in fantasy football to own the Brady, until, well, this year... when he's gone 2-2 with 2 ass-kicking blowouts, has put up numbers similar to those of guys who no longer start, and has thrown deep balls as if his last name was Detmer.

Want to know the commonality between these years?

They are the only ones in which I've drafted Brady for my fantasy squad.

Everywhere in fantasy football, people are dropping Brady for flavors of the week like Kirk Cousins or Teddy Bridgewater or even, God help them, Kyle Orton. (Hey, unlike Brady, he's got a WR1 in Sammy Watkins.)

That's not going to be me. I'm keeping him; I'm going to own him into the fires of hell. (On my bench, please. Matt Ryan is saving my bacon in a big way.)

So, why am I keeping him? It's very, very simple, Patriot Fan: I Hate Your Team. And Brady. And I'm going to keep him around, rub him up with my stink (Want to know my backup QB last year? EJ Manuel. No, seriously) until your eyes water. I'm going to keep him around until this season is well and truly lost for the Patriots, since Ryan doesn't have a bye until Week Nine. It's going to be my version of public service.

Unless, of course, you people pay up.

Consider it a Kickstarter for your club, a crowd-sourcing effort to do the only thing you can do for your beloved team. You don't want to see Brady go out like this, do you? Bill Belichick isn't going to put him on an ice floe like Drew Bledsoe and send him to Buffalo; he's going down the drain with him, rather than try the backup and adjust the offense to personnel that aren't sitting ducks for a pass rush that's always getting there. You don't want your last memory of Brady to be the guy who was in that Chiefs MNF game, right?

PayPal link's at the top of the blog, people.

Give 'til it hurts... or embrace the hurt.

Either way, I'm winning big.

Unlike, well, your team...

Monday, September 29, 2014

News and MLB Playoff Predictions You Could Not Possibly Care About

Toss Coin, Hope
The worst champ- ionship team in my fantasy league's history has been put to bed... and it's mine, god dammit, and flags fly forever. It's my first championship in my own damned league; I've finished distant second twice, and sixth last year, in a league of 12, so that's now officially a win on the money. Combined with my second place in hoop, and it's the one thing that's gone well this year in re hustle money.

Having said that... man alive, did I hate this team. I finished the year Logan Morrison and Ryan Rua (yeah, he's some kid in Texas) as my corner infielders, along with the spectacular disappoint that was Xander Bogaerts. (Didn't do much this year, but he's still 21 and relatively cheap on auction numbers, so, meh.) My offensive output was a middle of the pack collection of not good enough, saved by Dee Gordon's emergence as SBs from Heaven, and the other top contenders not doing enough to stop my armada of slugs. The club was carried by pitching, and not even the kind of pitching that makes you feel good about winning (i.e., all-in bets that worked of cost-nothing guys that worked out); instead, I go there with middle bets like Kyle Lohse, Jon Lester, Sonny Gray and Scott Kazmir.

About the only thing that made me happy about this year, beyond the money and the championship, was that I did nothing in the way of rent a pennant deals to get over the hump. Even when my team was last in saves and just needed a fungible closer to get into contention, I didn't pull the trigger on the dozens of deals that the non-contenders threw my way, mostly because closers tend to get hurt and lose their jobs as soon as you deal for them. I never believed in my guys, and they won; it's the perfect abusive relationship. (Also, I secretly think they're great and will be better next year, especially if Manny Machado comes back strong and Javier Baez ever makes a little bit of contact. But don't tell them this. We've got a good thing going here.)

And with that... on the crapshoot predictions of the not really playoff games, before the actual playoff games.

Oakland (Jon Lester) v. Kansas City (Jams Shields) - Tuesday night

Well, this is why Jon Lester is here, right? Unfortunately for the A's, James Shields isn't exactly a small game kind of guy, and the Royals have been (a) playing better and (b) at home. Lester is 3-0 against the Royals this year and 9-3 lifetime, with a 1.84 ERA and 1.04 WHIP, his best marks (by far) against any other AL team. However, those numbers are just 2-3 / 3.10 / 1.31 at Kaufman Stadium, so most of the damage has been in road games. Shields is 6-4 with a 3.82 ERA and 1.15 WHIP lifetime against the A's, and 1-0 in two starts of 14 innings against them this year. If you are looking for Green and Gold hope, Shields is 4-6 / 3.51 / 1.22 at home this year, and a lot better on the road. So by the numbers, the A's have a small but significant advantage at SP.

In the starting 8, it's a pretty mixed bag. KC is better defensively in lots of places (C and OF being the most obvious), especially with Oakland battling injuries. The infield is pretty much a wash, or even a KC edge with 3B Josh Donaldson gutting it out through knee issues; it kind of helps him that this game isn't in Oakland, since he won't have as much foul ground to deal with. Offensively, KC doesn't hit for a lot of power, which Oakland theoretically does... but that's been mostly a theory for a month and a half now.

It's also, of course, the first playoff game in KC in a stunning amount of time, and the place is going to be crazed for it. Which isn't that big of a deal for Lester, given his past experience in WS meat grinders... but he's also been working without his best stuff for weeks now, and could be more pliable than expected. The bullpen is also a KC advantage, and frankly, I think the A's are going to have better chances against Shields than they would the KC corps.

So... I'm leaning KC, but it's not very solid, because teams in front of desperate crowds like this don't always pan out (see Pittsburgh v. St. Louis last year), and Oakland might actually play a little loose and easy now that the threat of Worst Collapse Ever is off their chests. The better bet is with the home team, and it's hard to see how Oakland just flips the switch and starts hitting and playing defense like a good team again.

Royals 4, A's 2

San Francisco (Madison Bumgarner) v. Pittsburgh (Edinson Volquez) - Wednesday night

Bumgarner is a weird case; alternately dominant (18-10 and 2.98 ERA) and fungible, more combative than most, and able to handle the stick. He's usually better later in the year and has been good against Pittsburgh in relatively few lifetime starts, but it's hard to know exactly what you are going to get.  It helps that he's also their best SP in 2014, which has to give them a nice bit of confidence going into this game.

This pales in comparison with Edinson Volquez, who has given the Pirates a fine year (13-7, 3.04 ERA) and is probably their best this year... but is on his fourth franchise and 66-59 lifetime. He doesn't have the best stuff on staff -- that's either Gerrit Cole or Francisco Liriano -- but he keeps them in games, for the most part, assuming he's not battling control issues. In other words, this is a big edge for the visitors.

Offensively, the Giants are better than you think (their home park murders their numbers), and have loads of post-season experience to fall back on. They get after it pretty well defensively, and do pretty well in late and close situations, though the bullpen isn't as airtight as past years. Pittsburgh has the more electric offensive talent with Andrew McCutcheon and Josh Harrison, but they also have the letdown of not winning their division and getting in this game in the first place.

So, despite the home field, you have to think the road team are the favorites here... and for cause. Overcoming experience is one thing, but experience and the better SP is too much.

Giants 5, Pirates 3

Eagles - Niners Takeaways

Toe, Tap, Torture
> KR/RB Chris Polk lost his daring as the show went on, which was a little silly considering the day that the STS were having

> HC Chip Kelly gave away his lack of confidence in the OL with the pass-heavy play mix early

> Niner HC Jim Harbaugh is Reid-esque in his use of challenges and timeouts

> This wasn't QB Nick Foles' best day, but the run game gave him no margin for error

> The pass pressure from the defense made me more encouraged than the previous victories

> Fox's analysts went on about how the short snap range made the punt block possible, but given the bum's rush that STer Trey Burton was giving his man, I think the blocks happen at normal distance

> Harbaugh's play-calling seemed designed to minimize RB Frank Gore, which was quite a favor, really

> Short of putting on red poms poms and tassels, I'm not sure how Joe Buck and Troy Aikmann could have been more in the bag for Red

> I'm normally a bit soft on Ed Hochuli's work, but today's officiating was piss-poor

> WR Brandon Lloyd pretty much has one NFL skill left, and that is a freakish leaping ability to save bad balls]

> WR Anquan Boldin didn't do nearly as much damage as I thought he would in this matchup, mostly because QB Colin Kaepernick played a pretty poor game, really

> This was the first game of LB Emmanuel Acho's NFL career where he looked a little like the guy wearing his uniform in pre-season

> Normally time of possession doesn't really matter that much, but not when it's 3 to 1 against, and it's accompanied by big yardage discrepancies

> I'm not saying that he's the full problem here, but when you are going with second and third string OL, a dancing boom-bust RB like LeSean McCoy isn't helpful, and the team might have been better served with more carries for RBs Darren Sproles and Polk

> The biggest difference in Foles 2014 v. Foles 2013 is the missed deep balls

> S Earl Wolffe had the best play of his NFL career when he separated TE Vernon Davis from the ball, which didn't stop Troy Aikman from fellating Kaepernick for the throw anyway

> The flag for defensive holding when everyone on the field was assuming offensive holding was a special moment of Ref Fail

> Kaepernick's TD to Gore was one of those plays that should never ever work, and made the Fox booth all sticky

> I'm really worried that C David Molk is just too small for this level, and the running game won't be good for as long as he's in there

> S Malcolm Jenkins's pick and TD was the kind of play that gets you to Hawaii, and further proof that the front office is better at signings than draft picks

> The ensuing close up let see Kaepernick's dental work, and he's got some gold in the back molars, so that's good

> Every Red snap uses full clock, which is rarely a sign of a confident and competent QB

> On the Sproles PR TD, the kick was nearly blocked and the only issue for the returner was staying upright after a face mask

> Being up 21-10 with no offensive points on the road should never happen, really

> I'd like to see teams try onside kicks whenever they are kicking from the 50 yard line, since it's not like it costs you that much in field position

> It was nice of Fox to talk about last week's QB hit on Foles during this week's game, because talking about things that don't matter is such a great thing for play by play people to do

> Offensive PI is being called a lot more this year, along with every other kind of flag, so, um, yay

> For a mobile QB who seems more comfortable out of the pocket than in, Kaerpernick misses a lot of throws on the run

> CB Cary Williams removed Crabtree's helmet without touching his face mask, which seems like it should be hard to do

> Dawson's 51-yard figgie was huge, as it was points, nearly a block for DT Brandon Bair, flipped the field, and wound up being a game-changing play

> Play calling before the end of the half wasn't exactly inspirational

> LB DeMeco Ryans had back to back plays of putting TE Vernon Davis on the sidelines, then Gore for a loss

> T Jason Peters really has to stop taking plays off for heart-stopping injury scares

> Ertz's fumble was just the kind of game-changing mistake you can't make, especially on the road

> The defense then went out and got a sack, drop and sack that was wiped off by a phantom holding call, and that was as bad as any call made in this trainwreck of a game

> I thought Aikman and Buck were going to go down to the sidelines and yell at Harbaugh to call more running plays at one point

> Jenkins with the ball at the end of another Gore run, but after the Williams flag, I don't think anyone rooting for Green expected any breaks

> I'd really like to see a QB sneak on third and inches stopped, just once

> DT Cedric Thornton with one of the better games of his career, as well

> Kaepernick missed Crabtree for a walk-in score against the blitz as Fletcher whiffed

> Kaepernick to WR Stevie Johnson for the toe-touch TD was just good offense beating good defense, and the completion of the 4-point flag

> Four point flag on Williams for a play that should never, ever be called

> McCoy for nothing as Foles didn't block for the reversal, which is probably for the best, but still a little telling

> Foles incomplete on third as Matthews is blown up for some reason that isn't a penalty

> On 3rd and 14, the Niners called a weird draw to set up a long figgie, showing Harbaugh's confidence in his defense

> 46-yard figgie from Dawson is another good moment from an old K in a new yard with odd wind patterns

> Foles tries Maclin deep, and that's just bad decision making on pressure, into double coverage

> The WR also doesn't judge the depth to play DB, three turnovers in four possessions and an arm punt

> The defense might have gotten a three and out, but Kaepernick to Boldin isn't challenged and moves the sticks; not a great moment for Kelly

> Watching Red blow a timeout on snap count shenanigans was just unconscionably dumb

> 14 minutes left and Red with just one timeout, and if you want to tell the narrative of how Kaepernick is just too dumb to win big games, well, yeah

> Lee blows the pooch attempt, and the Niners only get 20 yards of field position

> McCoy loses five on the slow developing stretch play that hasn't worked all year

> Foles barely avoids a sack on the read option play action where the line isn't up to the task

> Third and 14 to Cooper gets 12, and it's been about a year since Green's offense has been this dominated

> Weak punt by Jones, not his best day, and the defense has to go do it again somehow

> Third and long is Kaepernick to Crabtree for 25, just burns Williams, and while it wasn't a kill-shot, it's more evidence that he's not CB1

> Hyde destroyed by Thornton, and that was manly for a loss of three; amazing how well they hold up in second halves

> Kelly took a 10 yard holding flag and gave the Niners another shot at converting a third down, rather than a figgie; Kaepernick converted it and wound up draining more minutes off the clock with an easier FG

> My only thought there was that Kelly didn't think his offense was up to scoring a TD today, and that he needed to keep this as a figgie wins it game... but if that's the case, that's just as bad as the decision in any other way

> Red's delay flag on third and 2 from the 11 was just more evidence that this team's time is passing

> Third and 7 from the 16 is a give to Hyde, who gets slowed by Jenkins and stopped by others (barely)

> Dawson connects, and it's 26-21 with 6:38 left; still possible for the offense to show up and win this, after missing the first 54 minutes

> Polk can't make it to the 20, there are flags, and OK, it wasn't hard enough before

> Foles to Maclin for a first down, and hey, that wasn't a slow developing run to loss by McCoy

> McCoy's worst day as a pro in pass protection, too

> Foles to Maclin for a first on what might not have been a catch

> Foles has Cooper open deep, but doesn't connect, and it's second and 10 and a lack of patience

> Screen to WR Brad Smith, who stumbles for 11 and a first down, and hey, Smith's still on the team

> First snap in Red territory is Foles to Ertz for 14 more

> Foles tries Maclin on the little known fly out of bounds route; the WR pulled up and that looked bad

> Double fake screen goes nowhere and the QB takes a shot to boot, and maybe you shouldn't call that play against the best LBs in the league

> Third and 14 to Maclin is the catch of the year; left handed, one hand, first down and unreal

> Harbaugh challenges as the Eagles try to quick snap it

> There's no way that should be reversed, or anything but applauded

> Foles tries Cooper in the end zone; should been caught for a score, shouldn't have been thrown given the coverage

> Foles to Matthews for a first down and out of bounds, nice work by the WR

> Foles out of the end zone on first, and no ground game at all on this drive, which says more about the line than anything

> McCoy to the 1, actual holes by the lie on that play, and the offense lets it go to the 2-minute warning

> Third and goal from the 2 is Foles to Ertz, misses, as McCoy blows the block and the clock doesn't even run

> Fourth and goal, Foles misses on a keeper, but the QB's lack of foot speed limits options, and Maclin wasn't open at all

> It's amazing how little Red respected the run on third or fourth down, and how Green didn't give their theoretically best player a chance to take the lead

> Still a game with 3 timeouts and 1:50 left on the clock, and a safety would do wonders

> Gore for three yards takes some pressure off for Red

> Second and 7 is Gore for 2, DT Bennie Logan with the play, and the second timeout taken

> Third and 5 and still a game is Gore and stopped, and that's everything you could hope for there

> Sproles back for the punt, and gets 8, but instead it's Fletcher for a weak clip

> 69 yards from an utter theft win, but the club never got a first down

> Only the second time in NFL history that a team has lost with three return TDs

> This was a game everyone in Philly thought the Eagles would lose, but the way in which they did it was still really disappointing

> With luck, Lane Johnson returns next week to give the team a semblance of an OL again... but with the huge Dallas and New York wins, you will forgive the fan base for not freaking out

> Next week is the Rams, off a bye, at home, but with a defensive front seven that is as good or better than what the Niners run out there

> So much for locking down the division with a lack of drama

Sunday, September 28, 2014

NFL Week 4 Top 10 Takeaways

The Colt Schedule
10) In the most predictable result of the 2014 season, Steve Smith Sr. had Unstoppable Vengeance against the Panthers

9) The Vikings got maximum production with minimal legal and PR issues from their RBs today, so feel free to trade in those Peterson jerseys now

8) Aaron Rodgers told Packer Fan to relax, then made them do just that

7) One of these years, he promises, Jay Cutler will come up big in a game against the Packers

6) The Steelers made a huge fourth down stand at the goal line late in the fourth quarter, then turned around and lost a home game to the Bucs anyway

5) JJ Watt should be ownable in fantasy as a flex offensive player when he goes against bad QBs

4) The NFL showed Europe how little they care about them by making them watch the Raiders

3) Jets Fan chanted for Michael Vick in a 7-point loss to the Lions, which never ends well for anyone

2) With his second straight win over a division rival that wouldn't win in the SEC, Andrew Luck solidified his status as the top QB in fantasy, or at least the top guy with the easiest schedule

1) The only undefeated teams in the NFL had a bye, giving us all the dream of a year when no one mentions the 1972 Dolphins (crap, I blew it)

NFL Week 4 Top 10 Ad Questions

10) How terrible was the father in the NFL Shop ad to inspire his family to such widespread fan loyalty disbursement?

9) Was it Cable Rob Lowe or Direct TV Roe Lowe with the sex scandal?

8) Is the new iPhone so destructive to personal privacy that you can no longer keep your own thoughts private?

7) What kind of sexual perversion is it when you need to touch another person's car, and does owning a Dodge make you more susceptible to it?

6) Does altitude sickness make beer taste better?

5) Why does JJ Watt wear his full uniform and pads outside of work, and how bad does it smell from all of the extra wear?

4) Did LeBron James choose the top hat in his McDonalds Monopoly ad to hide his ever-retreating hairline?

3) If I drink Corona, do I need to have the nature of beaches explained to me?

2) How much money do I need to send to Terry Bradshaw to get him to stop telling me about his health problems?

1) Does using Sprint cause the women in your life to become shrill, glass-shattering harpies?

Is Joe Girardi Trying To Be Fired?

Add caption
Story in the World Wide Lemur today that during the post-climax weekend series in Boston, Yankee manager Joe Girardi tore into his team to show his anger and disappointment over their failure to make the playoffs for the second straight year.

And, well, um, sure... but Joe? Where was this fire when the team actually was able to, you know, do anything about that? Where was your own personal fire when you kept running the worst hitting year of Derek Jeter's career in the 2 spot, along with his worst fielding career at shortstop? And why, if you have the full support and respect of your locker room, are we hearing about this almost as quickly as it happens, leaked out in the media and detracting from the MLB-wide canonization of St. Jeter?

The only thing I can think of is that, well, Girardi doesn't really want to be here any more, or has gotten the hint that he's on the way out and wants to leave with some hard-ass street rep. Which is all kinds of pathetic and obvious, really, especially when the biggest problem for the Yanks (beyond, of course, the requirement to play Jeets no matter what) has been out of bounds of managerial work or player conditioning, and that's injuries, especially to the SPs.

Now, I realize that it's nuts to think that any manager wants to be run, let alone from a job like New York... but think about what's looking down the barrel at the 2015 Yankee manager. He's living without Jeter, in the third year without playoffs. That's complete win or else without any kind of air cover at all... and, um, you get to deal with the madness that is 40-year-old Alex Rodriguez, still under contract and coming off the biggest PED suspension ever, with absolutely no one in the fan base wanting to see him back in the pinstripes. Unless, of course, he helps them win.

Your SP staff? Well, there's whatever is left of CC Sabathia; good luck with that. Masahiro Tanaka ran out of gas in a big way, but he's a reasonable bet to have some use in 2015. Less so, Hiroki Kuroda. Brandon McCarthy will regress, Michael Pineda can't stay healthy, and there isn't an obvious Next Kid or FA to make things all better. The bullpen has that curious issue of big budget teams, which is that it isn't nearly as good as it should be, because building a quality bullpen is much more about your minor league system than the guys that start the year.

As for the everyday lineup... well, it makes the pitching situation look happy. 1B Mark Teixeira is basically Ryan Howard now; a terrible contract for less and less offensive return. 2B is currently manned by Stephen Drew, which is to say that it's an open hole. SS, you know about. 3B is Chase Headley, assuming A-Rod doesn't take the job back, and while he's been better in NY than San Diego, he's not exactly a world beater over there. The outfield is Jacoby Ellsbury (good, but not getting better), Brett Gardner (the poor man's Ellsbury), Martin Prado (better as a utility knife than a FT RF, especially with a team that's not getting enough out of 1B/3B, and a bunch of guys that don't move the needle. At least they are getting something out of C Brian McCann, but that guy gets on base less than 29% of the time, and isn't hitting enough HRs to make for a real SLG mark. There are a lot of big names here, but not a lot of big production.

So this is what it is: a team with 80 to 85 win talent that isn't getting better, in a division where the Orioles just slug you to death, the Rays keep reloading in winning trade after winning trade, the Jays are actually over .500 for once, and the Red Sox seem to save up all of their competence for WS winning years. It's not exactly the dream job you might think, especially with other franchises catching up on the money for FAs.

So, if you are wondering why Girardi just crapped all over Jeet's Final Days... well, maybe because he's seeing his coming as well. And if you are going out, might as well go out swinging.

The MLB Playoffs Begin Today, And My A's Are Going Down

Yup, That's The Feeling
No team in baseball history has ever failed to make the playoffs after having the best record in baseball at the All Star Break... but all we need is two more terrible days for the dictionary definition of a beleaguered team, which is my Oakland A's, and we're going to have that.

They will, of course, be called chokers... but to be fair, it's been far more of a case of injury than infirmity. In the first half, they won with a devastating offense, with All-Star corner infielders and a rotating cadre of outfielders who made teams lose on a daily basis. They also had incredible output from their catchers, great defense all over the field, a deep and reliable bullpen, and starting pitching that was clearly performing miles above their level.

So what happens? Well, first baseman Brandon Moss slumps, then gets hurt, and plays anyway. Third baseman Josh Donaldson is playing hurt with a knee issue. CF Coco Crisp has played hurt, which is to say, he's played badly. RF Josh Reddick can't stay healthy. C John Jaso is done for the year due to concussion. and C Stephen Vogt and C Derek Norris have faded. OF Yoenis Cespedes is in Boston, traded out for the Jon Lester rental.There isn't a single offensive player of note on the roster who is playing as well as he did in the first half, let alone better.

The guys playing in their place? Well, DH Adam Dunn has been here for a month to show that retirement is a fine idea; he's great if you like to see swings and misses at any quality fastball. OF Sam Fuld is back from Minnesota, and doing what he can, but he's a clear OF4/5 type who gets exposed with extra ABs.PR Billy Burns is here just to steal bases, and got caught tonight in Texas with the team down a run in the ninth. And so on, and so on, and so on.

Saturday, they lost to a spot starter in Texas while the Mariners were winning in extra innings.Today, it will be entirely up to SP Sonny Gray, setting a new career high in innings pitched with every out he gets, in Texas to try to stop the last amount of humiliation. Meanwhile in Seattle, against an Anaheim team that's playing for absolutely nothing, SP Felix Hernandez will make the biggest start of his life, with the Mariner hopes and ERA title on the line. Oh, and in his last start, King Felix got punked by the Blue Jays in a game that looked like it had sank Seattle, before the A's buffoonery brought them back into it.

Honestly, I don't know what to root for. I don't want to see this club play any more; I haven't enjoyed watching them do much of anything for the last two months, and I think they'd be Dead Team Walking, either in Game 163 against the mariners or in the Play-In Game against the Royals or Tigers. Then I wonder why I don't think a team that is no longer playing with Choke History on their necks to turn things around, because, well, it's baseball and that happens all the damned time...

There's the possibility of three Game 163s, actually, since Detroit-KC and Pittsburgh-St. Louis is all in the same boat. And I suppose this all further validation of how MLB is wise to add a second wild card, but the plain and simple fact of the matter is that my A's are 9-20 in their last 29 games... and just should not be playing meaningful ball any more. The fact that they are still isn't all sunshine and cherries... and if they somehow survive and thrive, that's not a great moment for MLB. (But honestly, the A's have lost 5 of 6 to the freaking Rangers. Let's just say that I'm counting on two more losses, the last against Seattle in Game 163, and more than a little relief.)

Friday, September 26, 2014

The Jeter Exit: The End Of Different

Rats With Cocaine
Tonight in the Bronx, in the first home game of his ridiculously long career without playoff signifi- cance, Derek Jeter effectively ended things with a walkoff single that will be played even more times than the Gatorade ad that your Yankee Fan friend considers to be religious art. (On the plus side, maybe it takes Slide Jeremy Freaking Giambi Slide off my screen. But I digress.)

And with that sharp single to right, served up by the fungible Evan Meek, Jeter did, once more, the thing that he's done for decades: rose to the occasion and made one of the most insufferable fan bases in the history of American sport feel special, privileged, different, and superior.

To other baseball fans, with the possible exception of the Cardinals and Red Sox, this is not what the sport is. What baseball is to the rest of the nation is the promise of spring, slowly drained away in the face of superior and usually better-compensated teams from Parts Favored, as the world turns cold and the leaves fall. It's poetic, but not always nice. It works out when you get  the Magic Year, the Year where everything goes your way, and a half dozen guys play out of their minds and you get all of the breaks. Maybe that happens twice as often when you play fantasy ball, maybe not. But that's what baseball is. Ask Phillies Fan; he lives for 2008 and 1980. Ask Mets Fan, who keeps going on about 1986, or Royals Fan, who capped a decade of frustration with the Donn Denkinger I-80 win in 1985 and have wandered in the woods for nearly 30 years since. But dammit, he's got 1985. And it matters more to him than any of the Yankee wins.

Flags fly forever. And they matter, so much more, when they fly rarely.

But not in the Bronx.

F. Scott Fitzgerald said that the rich are different from you and me, and, well, so are the Yankees. But for the most part, rich people are rich in private, since being rich in public is gauche and makes you a target. The Yankees are rich in public, and have been that way for the vast majority of their history. And Jeter has been the living embodiment of that.

There was never a possibility that he was going to end his career anywhere else -- and the simple fact that this is only true of one franchise, and that fans of that franchise don't ever think about this, is why baseball has been so screwed up for so long, in regards to actual parity. He was too good at his role and what it meant to be The Yankee Shortstop, so much so that even a franchise that bounced Ruth, Mantle, Berra and dozens of other Hall of Fame talents without a second thought let him write his own exit. Made of teflon, approachable without ever being sullied, able to bed a baseball team of prime tail without anyone ever raising an eyebrow, immune to the slings and arrows of sabermetrics or fielding statistics or injury or scandal.

The only real problem that anyone outside of New York had with Derek Jeter was the team he played for... and how we were all supposed to love him anyway. When, well, That's Not How Baseball Works.

When your baseball team is eliminated, you don't necessarily keep watching baseball. That's why the ratings are so bad, continually degrading, and only rebound a little when big market teams make it. There could be a Cowboy-Patriot Super Bowl, and I'd still watch the damn game, probably while rooting for blimp crash. But Red Sox - Giants? I'm finding something else. I'm all-in for my A's, but when they are out, it's really hard for me not to join them.

So Jeter did what he did, and it's an instant classic and a player that every fan of every team has to, and for the most part does, respect.

But we don't have to love him. We don't have to be sorry he's gone. We don't have to feel badly for Yankee Fan that the calender finally took their binkie away, or that the changing nature of the nation and the increasing number of crazily rich men means that other teams can spend as much or more than the Yankees. They'll never get their hands on Clayton Kershaw or Mike Trout or Miguel Cabrera or David Ortiz or Adam Wainwright and so on, and so on. The days of A-Rod and Reggie Jackson and Ricky Henderson and Mike Mussina and Roger Clemens and Randy Johnson all just gravitating here are gone. Robinson Cano left for more money. You had to pay too much to get Jacoby Ellsbury, and he's just finished the best year he'll ever have for you. The next guy to play shortstop for the Yankees will be some rental that won't give you anywhere near the memories, even if he's actually a better player in the here and now.

So, Yankee Fan? Enjoy your night. Buy your merch. Look back on your decades. Book that trip to Cooperstown. Savor it.

Because it's all over now. Now, what you get now is a franchise that's a lot more like what everyone else knows as baseball.

Not special, not privileged, not  different, not superior.

I don't think you are going to like it nearly as much as you did the Jeter Era.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Week 4 NFL Picks: Bye Sweet Bye, And The 1972 Dolphins Are Asshats

A Town Called Asshat
Every year in the NFL when the byes come along, every writer goes off on how awful this is, how thin the schedule is, and yada yada yada. When, frankly, it's something of a relief. I don't know about you, but I generally do better in my nerd work when you have to go deeper into the muck and mire, because I can't leave well enough alone and just, you know, limit my timesuck to the guys who actually play.

Which leads us to this slate of games, the last of the September Silly Season, when you can more or less forget everything that 2013 taught you about the teams. This is usually when the lines start to tighten up, especially on road favorites, and you have to start paying attention to get anything out of your fantasy honking.

And it also may be the second to last weekend where we have any unbeaten teams (the Cardinals and Bengals are on a bye), which means we can get the annual smug off by the most overrated team in NFL history, the 1972 Dolphinsy. Why overrated? Because their schedule was the biggest set of creampuffs this side of college football, and the NFL post-merger had about as much parity as a history of Polish military conflicts. They weren't nearly as good as the Fish team of 1973, which also won the Super Bowl. But since 15-2 doesn't sing as hard as 17-0, despite the fact that the '73 playoff wins were far more convincing, immortality is what it is. Gahhh. Well, on the bright side, most of them will be dead relatively soon. And, Lord willing, Chris Berman with them.

Anyway, moving beyond that little moment of rooting for the reaper...last week was a disaster on many levels, with a good chunk of them coming when I thought had covers in the bag. Not good times, so I'm clearly due. And with that... on to the picks!

NY GIANTS (+3.5) at Washington

As much as I'd like to give my Eagles credit for a gutty win last week against the Slurs, the simpler fact of the matter is that the DC secondary wasn't good to start, and is now playing with the second stringers. Against a Giants team that actually found its gears on offense last week against a far superior Texans outfit, in the home field that has never done much for them, I see a Blue Thursday for the home team, and lots of Manning stat padding. There's also this: QB Kirk Cousins really isn't as good as the Eagle secondary made him look last week.

Giants 31, Slurs 20

GREEN BAY (-1.5) at Chicago

Strong gut check time for the Pack and QB Aaron Rodgers, who looked ordinary or worse on the road in Detroit last week against the on-again, off-again Lions. The Bears have back to back road night wins under their belt, but the history of this rivalry for the better part of the Obama Administration is that head to head, Rodgers shines and Bears QB Jay Cutler fails. I think it will be a shootout that goes for the far more desperate road team.

Packers 34, Bears 30

Buffalo at HOUSTON (-3)

Possibly the worst QB matchup of the 2014 season, and that's saying something. Bills QB EJ Manuel does less with more than any guy in the league, while People What Live Round Here QB Ryan Fitzpatrick is a vagabond turnover machine. It's also a Vengeance Game for Rhino, and the thing about turnover machines is that they usually get the job in the first place from running up numbers in home games, on short fields.

Texans 24, Bills 16

Tennessee at INDIANAPOLIS (-7.5)

All better time for the Colts? More likely than not, though they have tended to struggle a bit in this division matchup. The Titans are looking to RB Bishop Sankey and WR Justin Hunter to carry the mail, but both guys are too inconsistent to keep the hammer down in a pinball game, as is QB Jake Locker. QB Andrew Luck? Not really an issue.

Colts 41, Titans 20

Carolina at BALTIMORE (-3)

I'm starting to wonder about the make-up of the Panthers. Remember, this is one of those secondary embarrassments for the NFL with Greg Hardy getting off the field due to home life, and while the short run of that sort of thing is usually adrenalin-based We'll Show You, the long run is not so good. Especially with a mediocre at best secondary, and a suddenly injury-riddled RB corps. Charm City has its own injury issues, with do-everything TE Dennis Pitta out, but I think they'll get it done here. Oh, and I'm also really not comfortable with the idea of betting against Steve Smith Sr. in this one, because he might murder a half dozen guys with the sheer excellence of his vengeance.

Ravens 26, Panthers 17

Detroit at NY JETS (+1.5)

One more fantasy disappointment in a year filled with them has been Lions QB Matthew Stafford, who failed to take advantage of a cushy home field match up against the Pack last week, and now has to go on the road against a Jet club that can hurt you in the trenches. It's also high time for one of those Geno Smith bounce-back moments, especially since the game isn't at night. The Jets are just horrible outside of 1 and 4pm.

Jets 23, Lions 17

Tampa at PITTSBURGH (-7)

How much of that TNF massacre was Tampa's true level, and how much of it was just getting into a wilding moment in a loud dome? We'll find out a little more this week, when they have to go to probably better QB2 Mike Glennon in a road game in Steeltown, which usually doesn't end well for the team with the young QB. On the other side of the ball, Steeler RB Le'Veon Bell has been money, and will be late in the game in this one, too.

Steelers 24, Bucs 14

MIAMI (-4) at Oakland

Remember Week One? The Fish trucked the Patriots at home, looked all kinds of physical, seemed like the class of the division. Then in Week Two, they lost in Buffalo in a game where they suffered injuries; last week, they lost at home to a Chiefs team that looked like a dead team walking after their own defensive injuries. This week against the Raiders in one of those America Hates You games in the UK, they get to get well against the dregs of football, who actually aren't looking that dreggish just because QB Derek Carr is avoiding sacks. He won't find that easy to do against this Fish defense, though, and QB Ryan Tannehill reclaims the job to boot.

Dolphins 27, Raiders 17

JACKSONVILLE (+14) at San Diego

It's starting to look a lot like last year in JVille, where the Jags were DOA after a disaster start, then changed QBs and got all the way to mediocre, albeit slowly. This week in San Diego, look for the Chargers to throw their way to a big lead early, then allow the who cares back door cover as QB Blake Bortles resuscitates the offense, and the Charger ground game isn't effective enough to just kill the clock.

Chargers 34, Jaguars 24

ATLANTA (-2.5) at Minnesota

Viking Fan is excited to see QB Teddy Bridgewater in his first home start, but the bigger problem is that without RB Adrian Peterson and TE Kyle Rudolph, they just don't have the tools necessary to give him what he needs in a shootout. And, well, this is going to be a shootout, because QB Matt Ryan has a working O-line again, and the tools to show what he can do. It also doesn't hurt that WR/PR Devin Hester looks like his own self again, too.

Falcons 31, Vikings 20

PHILADELPHIA (-5.5) at San Francisco

No one who follows my laundry has thought this game was going to be a win from the moment that the schedule was announced, and after three thrilling but wildly flawed wins, that hasn't changed. But SF is 1-2 for cause, with QB Colin Kaepernick having turnover issues and the entire club having major problems in the second half and fourth quarter. They also need to run the ball to be effective, and that's the one thing my team has done well on defense, along with turning into a good team in close and late moments.

The very scary thing for Green is how they'll bring a makeshift offensive line across the country to face a desperate and solid defense, and that's very valid. But QB Nick Foles has shown the ability to get the ball away quickly, and the Niner LB corps isn't as airtight as they used to be. Look for Green to fall behind early, get back some equilibrium with the screen game, benefit from a turnover and scare the Niners senseless late. Which means a cover, if not a win. (And no, not a win, because my team isn't good enough in the red zone.) They'll feel better about it than the Jags' win, and should.

Niners 31, Eagles 27

NEW ORLEANS (-3) at Dallas

Are you serious, Vegas? I get to take the Saints in a night game, against a Cowboys team that damn near killed themselves to beat the Rams with QB2, a couple of days after they demoted a CB and had him go AWOL?

Look, I get that the Saints have been a disappointment to date, far from the predicted 2nd-best team in the conference. I understand that RB DeMarco Murray is the only high drafted RB in fantasy that has actually played to expectations. And that home field advantage is a thing, and that thing is hard to just disregard.

But great googly moogly, have you people learned nothing about past SNFs with the Saints? Or how Niner Fan took over the Jerruhsoleam in Week One -- Week One! -- and that Saints Fan is barely a plane ride (It's 500 miles from the Superdome, or about a 6-hour drive, the way people go in Texas) away? And that the Cowboys have absolutely no one who can stay with Jimmy Graham or Brandin Cooks, and the Saints have been running the ball well, too? Finally, that the Cowboys can still be terrible at defense even if they have had three tolerable games to start the season, because they haven't faced anything close to a very good offense yet?

I'd take the Saints at 9.5. This is just stealing. Bet with confidence, bet hard, bet much.

Saints 38, Cowboys 24

NEW ENGLAND (-3.5) at Kansas City

I can't defend this pick on the merits of the teams involved, because I have no idea who these teams are. The Patriots are, to date, a game manager team with a good defense, but no one thinks they are really going to stay that way, or that QB Tom Brady will continue to be unsuitable in fantasy. The Chiefs came into the year with what was presumed to be a good defense and a great RB; both have gotten hurt, but the team has still gotten that performance from the back ups. They are also attempting to win games without passing with a pass-first HC... so, well, no one really thinks this is the team that will remain, either.

So I'm pretty much picking the road team based on the fact that Bill Belichick has owned Andy Reid before, and probably will do again. Especially in front of a national audience. Should be a decent game, though.

Patriots 24, Chiefs 20

Last week: 5-11

Year to date: 18-29-1

Career: 506-529-40

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

It's Yankee Elimination Day!

This here blog has certain traditions. NFL picks that stink. NBA predictions that are less so. Lists for cheap jokes. And celebrating the small but lovely moments that come your way, not the least of which is Yankee Elimination Day. (We also celebrate Red Sox Elimination Day nearly as hard, but this year's Sox team cared so little, it was hard to really muster up the enthusiasm.)

YED 2014 was especially nice. A team with a $200mm payroll, playing in the most expensive baseball stadium evah, nursing one of the worst everyday players in recent history... oh, so sweet. All while deluding themselves into thinking that everyone loves and can't get enough of Prince Derek, who showed the world just how much Yankee Fan could be duped just like his contemporary in every other MLB town.

This year's Yankee team threw an untold number of pitchers at the problem that was a relentlessly .500 club. It depended on the last days of Carlos Beltran, the continuing slide to irrelevance that is Mark Teixeira, and the wildly overpriced Jacoby Ellsbury... all while letting their own best player, 2B Robinson Cano. walk so that he could be replaced by guys like, we're not kidding, Brian Roberts.

It's as if they weren't really trying, or were completely OK with trawling their way to .500 while cashing in on Jeter's every bowel movement. And it couldn't happen to a nicer fan base.

So... everybody sing!

Top 12 Takeaways From Cary Williams' PracticeGate Apology

He Does A Lot Of Apologizing
Eagles CB1 (sigh) Cary Williams apologized today to the team for calling out HC Chip Kelly's intense practices as the root of the team's slow starts. Here's all you need to know...

12) No one told Williams that it's not a great idea for athletes in Philadelphia to talk about practice

11) It makes all of the sense in the world that a team that has dominated in the fourth quarter has been over-practicing

10) Williams said that honesty isn't necessarily the best policy all the time, so no one tell him that he's really not up to the job of CB1

9) If Williams is reported to have friends in gangs in the off-season prior to his release, feel free to be a mite suspicious of those allegations

8) Kelly says this didn't bother him, mostly because he's 3-0 with three comebacks and nothing's really bothering him right now

7) If S Nate Allen had broken up that 81-yard bomb to WR DeSean Jackson, the practices would have been just fine

6) Judging from Williams' lack of enthusiasm for off-season workouts, this didn't exactly come as a shock

5) Your prop bet of "Eagles draft a CB in the first round in 2015" is looking nice

4) You can take a Raven out of Baltimore, but you can't take Baltimore out of an ex-Raven

3) The apology is totally going to fix any PR problem that Williams has with Eagle Fan

2) Kelly was going to make a bigger deal out of this, but the Edible Arrangement that Williams sent was really nice, and this blog is in no way getting paid off in an affiliate deal with Edible Arrangements

1) Cornerbacks should be neither seen nor heard

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

CJ Wilson, The Oakland A's, And Ultimate Fantasy Baseball Fail

So Much Hate
This is a story about something you can not possibly care about, but I feel like I've got to share it.

Let's start this with the team I root for: the Oakland A's. They brought me back into baseball when I had given up the sport. I've been to the Coliseum more than any other yard. They made baseball fun for the first four months of the season, and misery for the last seven weeks. I'm still rooting for them to make the playoffs and go on a run, but I can't say I'm filled with confidence about their prospects.

Unlike the A's, I haven't believed in my fantasy baseball team all year. (Year-long league, rotisserie rather than head to head, 12 teams, 5x5.) This is what happens when the cornerstone of your offense is Joey Votto, and you protect Jim Johnson as your top closer. But it's been a crazy year in baseball, a year where everyone has seemingly forgotten how to hit, and my collection of relentless sluggery has managed, through the pure luck pick ups of waiver wire studs like Dee Gordon, Hector Rondon and Zach Britton, and the second half patience pays plays of Alex Gordon and Matt Kemp, to pay off with the few good moves I made at the auction. (Mostly, cheap pitching wins from guys like Scott Kazmir and Kyle Lohse, though Yan Gomes at Catcher 2 is also awesome.) But honestly, the single biggest secret of my success is that the entire league has stunk and/or been competitive. My points total, even at my high water mark this year, would not have finished first in the seven previous years of the league.

It's also a weekly moves league -- the only sane way to run baseball, in my opinion, otherwise you just have to stay up until 3am EST every day during the final couple of weeks to maximize starts -- which means that SPs that work on Monday or Tuesday give you an edge, assuming that they don't stink up the joint. You might have also noticed the presence of Kazmir on my list; he's joined by Sonny Gray and Jon Lester, making me all too cognizant of the A's collapse over the last six weeks.

So I looked at the waiver wire last week. And pulled the trigger on a shaky SP, but one with two outstanding matchups, and great recent results.

CJ Wilson, 5-0 with a 2.79 ERA in his last five starts against Oakland, getting the nod tonight for the Angels. Five days after dominating the Seahawks, who he gets on the last game of the year. Maybe not an absolute ace, but a guy who has gone on hot streaks in the past, and has been on plenty of teams over the year.

Smart move, right? And sure, I have the karma nightmare of rooting against my laundry in clutch time, but the A's have been absolute misery to watch and at the dish for the better part of two months now, and could barely scratch across runs against the execrable Phillies all weekend. And Quality Starts is the category here, along with ERA, WHIP, Saves and K/BB.

Oh, yeah, K/BB. I have David Price, who has been the Jedi of this category this year, to the point where I think it's hurt his overall numbers. I've led it from wire to wire, and at 3.67, I'm on path to set a new record for the history of the league... but there are other teams at 3.61, and this thing is going down to the wire.

So what does Wilson do tonight, in a game the A's need and the Angels don't? Faces eight hitters, walks four of them, gives up two hits and four earned runs, and is damned lucky that last number isn't six. In so doing, he obliterates my Carlos Carrasco stud start, puts two categories at risk of points loss, and takes away most of the margin for error that I entered the week with.

All while making me feel like I've gotten exactly what I deserved for rooting against my team.

The lesson, as always... fantasy sports are punishment for your sins.

And lo, how I have sinned...

"Nobody's Losing A Job Here"

Best Boss Ever
And that, in a nutshell, is what the NFL really thinks about domestic abuse issues.

The money quote above is from Ravens' owner Steve Bisciotti about Ricegate, and, well, it's just that. The Ravens' front office can rest easy, because their boss has their back. Mistakes were made, horrible, horrible mistakes that can never, ever be made again, and will never, ever be made again. The people who made the mistakes are very, very sorry, and they don't have a good answer as to why they didn't get get the videotape from inside the elevator, or why everyone thinks they are either fantastically evil or criminally incompetent. They certainly don't feel they are either, so that's that.

But no one -- not NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, certainly not Bisciotti, not coach John Harbaugh, not GM Ozzie Newsome -- is going to have to, you know, be actually accountable for it, either at the office or in a court of law.

What was ESPN's reaction to this? Well, Chris Mortenson talked about the style involved, and how much more effective Bisciotti was than Goodell. Because when you are talking about men who enable other men who hit women, what's really important is the panache. Have a little style with your bitch slap, people.

And while there was plenty more involved in today's exercise in PR, I don't think you or I need to hear any more. I mean, let's not get out of hand. It's not like Rice turned the face of his fiancee and mother of his kid into absolute hamburger, right? All he did was beat her into unconsciousness, and have the immediate post-attack reaction that he was going to jail. And she was probably halfway there with the alcohol, right? It's not as if you stay involved with a guy like Rice without being a bit of a drinker,

I mean, she's still pretty, doesn't seem to have too much of a flinching reaction for all of those lights and television cameras, hasn't been back to the hospital in months, and was able to deliver the fetus to term. She's still on social media, even, and we all know that Rice could have put a stop to that. How bad could it be, really?

No, no, really, take a look at the elevator footage for the 10,000th time on cable television. The first moment of assault -- Rice spitting in her face -- well, that happens to everyone in their daily commute or office environment, right? The strike that he hit her with has hardly MMA level. and as a RB, Rice isn't even up to lineman size. Those guys could have really done some damage.

Looks bad and all, but it's just hitting a pregnant woman. Certainly not something that anyone should lose their job over.

Well, if you insist, I guess Rice losing his job over this is OK. He was kind of expensive anyway, the jersey sales are going to get a little bit embarrassing, and he really hasn't looked as good as rookie RB Lorenzo Taliaferro. That guy makes a pittance of what Rice made anyway. Football players lose their job all the time, what with the lack of guaranteed contracts, super-short playing careers and inevitable brain injuries. Might be a reason why they hit their women, but hey, that's their choice.

And with that, I think we can all agree that there's nothing more to see here, and this whole tiresome scandal can go to ground, and we can all go back to rooting on the Ravens.

Also, whatever brave team signs Rice next, because America loves giving second chances and once all the furor dies down, we'll all see how silly we were for caring about things like women getting abused.

Especially when the game's on, and people's employment is at stake.

Monday, September 22, 2014

The Eagles Make You Think, And Re-Think, And Re-Think

In Green
When a team falls behind, game after game, you know some things about them. Mostly, that they aren't very good.

When a team can't get it's star RB on track, even at home, you know some things about that guy. That maybe he's more rep than player now, since RBs age like fruit flies.

When a team seems to need big plays on special teams, or 50-50 flags that go against the opposition, or fourth quarter gift INTs that swing the game, we know even more. That they are doing it with smoke and mirrors, and they are living on borrowed time, and that there will be a Reckoning when all of this Illusion will come crashing down, and they will be exposed as the pretenders that they are.

This is, pretty much, what every Eagle fan is thinking about their 3-0, division leading club. The same one that, if the season ended today, would be the first seed in the NFC. The club that is only one of two teams in the conference, and three in all of football, that hasn't taken a loss this year. (There are only three winless teams, too. Welcome to the Age Of Meh.)

But, well, what if that's not the whole story?

The Eagles are +23 in net points, which only trails the Bengals. They've done what they have done without their prize second-year tackle, Lane Johnson, who will be back after next week. They've suffered waves of injuries to the offensive line, and aren't surfing on a huge wave of turnovers. They've broken in a rookie WR in Jordan Matthews, become dependent on second-year TE Zach Ertz, kept WR Jeremy Maclin healthy, incorporated RB Darren Sproles, and scored enough to continue to terrify defensive coordinators, despite this being Year Two of the Chip Kelly Era, when everyone was supposed to catch up to their trickery. They don't panic when they are down, they make good halftime adjustments on defense, they don't commit a ton of stupid penalties, and they've won games the last two weeks because of their emerging young QB.

All of these things are, well, pretty good.

The biggest point to me is that while the Eagles may be paper tigers... I'm not sure there are any real tigers right now. Seattle is the defending Super Bowl champions, and couldn't protect an 8-point lead at home with little time left today. (They still won the game in overtime.) You can wear them down late, because they just aren't that big. New Orleans, the other presumptive conference favorite, is just 1-2, and hasn't looked like world beaters in any event. Arizona is 3-0 with two wins behind their back-up QB, and maybe they are the new Big Bad, but I can't shake the feeling that they aren't going to be able to keep RB Andre Ellington healthy, and that once that ends, they'll become one dimensional and fail. Your 2-1 teams are Carolina, Dallas, Detroit, and Atlanta -- each of whom has looked really bad in losses this year, each with clear Problems with a capital P.

Next week, I expect the Eagles to lose in San Francisco in front of a national audience against a desperate and physical Niner club. The Cards and Seahawks are on a bye, so they'll come right back into view with an Eagle loss. The survivor of Washington v. New York will be right there in the division; Dallas, less so after problems with the Saints. Chicago might be the dark horse du jour if they can get past the Jets tomorrow night, because they've certainly had the worst of the schedule so far. St. Louis and Houston not doing the job, the closeness of today's home win, and the widespread injuries makes the dreams of locking up the division and setting sights on a bye a lot less likely.

But, well, they are 3-0, with intermittent defense, no great turnover luck, and their third-year QB starting to heat up. It's not out of the realm of possibility that they've played some of their worst football and still won every game.

And such is the nature of the league now. No great teams, very few really terrible ones, and it's more of a matter of if you get it done, rather than how.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Top 10 NFL Week 3 Takeaways

Soop Err Gene Yuss
10) The Lions lost LB Stephen Tulloch when he hurt himself celebrating a sack in their win against Green Bay, and yes, that's so Lions

9) Matt Cassel got hurt, answering the prayers of Vikings Fans everywhere, but the team got trucked anyway

8) Johnny Manziel made a highlight play as a WR on a play that didn't count, so that first round pick is working out great

7) My dark horse pick of the Jags to win the AFC South isn't looking so great

6) St. Louis blew a 21 point lead at home to allow Dallas to move to 2-1 and have a season after all

5) Oakland held the Patriots to 16 points in a road game, and you can safely out to rest the idea that New England is going to help anyone in fantasy this year

4) Eli Manning didn't throw a pick and the Giants won easily, which is one of those Obvious Causality moments

3) The Ravens broke the Browns hearts with a last second field goal, which finally gives Cleveland Fan a good reason to hate this franchise

2) San Diego gave Donald Brown 31 carries to get 62 yards, and yes, they kind of miss Ryan Mathews a wee bit

1) Cincy won by 26 to remain unbeaten, in a game where their QB didn't throw for a score, but did catch one

Eagles - Slurs Takeaways

Up All Year To Get Lucky
> WR DeSean Jackson, and Eagle Fan booing him into the fires of Hell for taking work in the division, were not going to miss this game

> It was nice of the clearly worst officiating crew in the NFL to start things off early with a 15-yard flag on the defense for replying to a post-whistle Jackson cheap shot

> You know it's bad when the announcing crew calls out the get even taunting call on WR Pierre Garcon on the next play

> Cousins was just about perfect on the first drive, which was all kinds of predictive for much of the day

> FB Dorrell Young scores to continue his reign of vulture terror on fantasy honks

> As a road team, you don't get better than the opening drive touchdown with catches by five different receivers and your RB running well

> RB/KR Chris Polk takes the ensuing kickoff to the house with no flags, and the only problem with that is that the defense had to go right back on the field

> Great blocking for the score, more than raw speed or moves from Polk

> Good coverage on the next, STs having a dominant win day so far

> DT Cedric Thornton jumps, and man alive, are they giving up a lot of those

> CB Cary Williams won a jump ball battle against Jackson, not that Cousins should be making that the attempt

> Cousins to TE Niles Paul for an easy nine up the middle for the short third down

> Cousins to Paul for the fly route, open on CB Bradley Fletcher, all of this is way too easy

> Morris fumbles and Garcon recovers for a loss, nice hit by LB Brandon Graham to set up 3rd and 8

> Jackson on the out for the first, well done by the QB, the WR wasn't open, but oh well

> Morris for way too easy yards to set up first and goal, and there's no one playing well on defense (again)

> Cousins to Garcon for the slant score, 14-7 Slurs, and the defense is bad and gassed

> I have no idea why you'd play Bob Griffin over Cousins now

> After an offsides re-kick, the Slurs squib it to set up reasonable field position, and the offense will finally take the field

> QB Nick Foles to TE James Casey for an ungainly 7, but a defensive hold makes it a first

> RB LeSean McCoy for 1, then 9, but slow to get up at the end of the play, and that looks concussive

> Foles fights through pressure to complete to WR Jordan Matthews for 4

> Foles throws one away on pressure from LB Ryan Kerrigan, and that's all kinds of worrisome

> Third and log is a big deal, and Foles gets it with his legs; massive play to end the quarter and keep the defense off the field

> McCoy looks like he's trying to argue his way back on the field

> RB Darren Sproles for a few as McCoy jogs to the locker room

> Sproles up the gut for a lot, but fumbles at the end, holding is declined, and that's just a huge mistake to give away points

> Morris spins to make third down easier, and then it's Cousins with the simple sneak; the play that killed the defense in the playoffs last year hasn't been addressed

> Jackson for 7 on the easy out, and the CBs are too scared and/or coached to not play up

> Third and 3 at midfield is essential, and DC calls time

> Simple out to Garcon and I don't get why they don't do anything but that

> McCoy returns to the sideline and game

> Cousins misses Garcon on an easy cross, high mistake, and that's more of what I was expecting

> Slant to Roberts for another first, everything in the passing game is effortless

> False start and false hope for the defense

> Morris for 2 as S Malcolm Jenkins fills it

> Garcon makes a man miss to set up the easy third down out for the first

> Lucky to not get called for late / any contact on the QB

> Actual miss to Garcon on third and 2, and that's the first third down conversion missed by the Slurs

> K Kai Forbath connects from 49, and it's 17-7, with the Eagles doing their usual first half nap

> Jackson and Morris getting knee attention on the bench, which is about as helpful as anything else

> McCoy back in as WR Jeremy Maclin goes to the house on a well-done screen, but C Jason Kelce is called for a clip he probably didn't need to make, so that takes points off the board

> False start, not much for McCoy, WR screen for Maclin not much, third and 11 is a big damned deal

> Foles to WR Riley Cooper, who attacks the ball in the air for the long out and conversion

> Challenge flag on Cooper's feet is a bad move by DC, but it's a de facto timeout with the offense moving, so I've seen worse

> McCoy can't stay in bounds, and he hasn't looked as sharp since the knockout

> Foles to TE Zach Ertz for the first, nice work by Foles to get extra time and make the throw

> McCoy loses a few on the stalled stretch play, not decisive enough

> Foles to Matthews on an easy play action center slant, and the QB is playing well

> 17-14 Slurs, and Fox talking about how much better the DC defense is, um, not so much

> Cousins to Jackson is actually disrupted by Fletcher, and hey, um, defense!

> Cousins to Garcon into double coverage on the sideline, perfectly executed for the first

> Cousins to Paul on bailout against pressure, he's worlds better than Griffin right now

> Cousins to Paulson for the not quite first, as Allen makes a reasonable effort

> Young on the quick hitter for the conversion, defense playing better but not getting anything for it

> Double move to Paul, broken up by Allen

> Morris for good yards as Cousins checks down to get the easier third down

> Third and 3 outside of figgie range is a big damned deal, and Fletcher gets flagged for good defense on Roberts, and that happens in the NFL now

> Morris for solid work and this drive is the best so far for DC, as it actually came against resistance

> DC runs the clock wisely to the 2-minute warning, and there isn't much that HC Jay Gruden hasn't done right so far today

> Morris for 3 sets up 3rd and 1, clock running

> Fletcher defends Garcon, and that's a figgie instead of more

> Forbath from 44 hits, and it's Slurs 20, Eagles 14 with 1:15 left and three Green timeouts

> Polk with another easy return on a weak kick, and the STs have been dominant

> Foles to Matthews for 7 as Joe Buck tells us the Eagles don't even huddle in practice, um, maybe because you should practice the way you play

> Foles for a scramble and first, then an out to Ertz for 5, and that requires a timeout

> Foles to Matthews for the first and out of bounds, another great job by the QB to buy time and make an on the run throw

> Foles with miscommunication to Matthews, lucky to avoid the pick

> Foles to Maclin gets it to the 12, timeout with 20 seconds left, uncalled horse collar tackle, and have we mentioned how bad this officiating crew is

> Foles to Sproles, bad move, kills the timeout and that's a spear on the RB, but hey, abusing RBs is pretty much OK

> Can't give up the figgie here, dangerous play

> Foles to Matthews, absolute bullet from the QB, and Green will lead at the half for the first time in 2014

> It's nice that 2013 Foles has arrived

> As bad as the defense played, if Sproles doesn't fumble, Green has a bigger lead and the ball to start the second half

> Squib kick doesn't help much, but Cousins takes a knee rather than try a Hail Mary; considering how this crew has called penalties, that's a gift

> Eagles 21, Slurs 20

> Foles to Maclin on the easiest 16 yard underneath route imaginable

> McCoy through a nice hole, but only 4 yards

> McCoy fumbles out of bounds, going sideways, really not his day, and Kelce is down and out (oh lord)

> Third and 11 is a sack, but mutual flags is a bailout

> Matthews can't bring in a big play downfield, but gets the DPI call, pretty obvious, huge first down

> Cooper makes a man miss and gets seven yards, nifty

> Kelce to the locker room

> Foles lucky to avoid a pick, forcing things to Cooper

> C David Molk in, and it's 3rd and 3

> Foles to Matthes on a poor backwards screen, not the call to make with back-up OL all over the place

> K Cody Parkey connects from 38, and it's Green 24, Slurs 20, and high time the defense made some plays

> Parkey out of the end zone is more of the very good same

> Cousins to Garcon for seven easy yards, and Kelce is done for the day

> T Jason Peters also limping, of course

> Paul can't catch a ball, and the Slurs are lucky to avoid a pick

> Huge third and 3 to keep control of the game

> Cousins misses Jackson on moderate pressure, and that's a three and out that helps loads

> P Tress Way gives Sproles a chance, and an obvious face mask is missed for the first 10 seconds after the play is over

> It's called a horse collar, and wow, what a bad crew

> Peters on the field and McCoy gets two with massive defensive penetration

> Foles goes down heavily on a screen miss to Shady, and LB Brian Orakpo goes down as well

> QB Mark Sanchez warming up in a hurry, but Foles stays in for third and 8

> Nice touch pass to Sproles to get 21, the first, and a lot of breathing room

> CB DeAngelo Hall down, and that's a bad moment for the Slurs, as he's the best of a bad lot

> Foles misses Maclin on an out, but an easy PI call for the first as Hall's replacement looks shaky

> McCoy for nothing, as not surprisingly, the line isn't blasting open big holes with second stringers

> Screen to McCoy for nothing, but a roughing the passer call on DL Trenton Murphy, and that's a legit flag that happens all the time now

> Slurs with over 100 yards of flags so far, most on PI

> DL Frank Kearse hits the turf as Green Fan starts to smell fakery

> McCoy loses two on the stretch, and that play needs to go away until the Slur defense is a lot more tired or dumb

> 3rd and 12 to Sproles, and he can't save Green every time

> Really not getting why you don't stay after the weak Slur secondary on the last two play calls

> Parkey from 33 makes it 27-20

> Chuck Bednarik shown today, he's 89 and has arms that still look capable of great violence

> Hall leaves on a cart, Parkey puts it out of the end zone, and it's on the defense to take some drama away

> Morris for five, then Cousins to Paul as LB Casey Matthews shows you why he should not be in the NFL

> Morris for no gain as MLB DeMeco Ryans makes the play

> Cousins to Paul as the refs blow the call on contact for six extra yards

> Kelly can't resist challenging what seems like an obviously blown call, and that's just not something he should have to do

> Third and trivial now, and it's Cousins for the obvious sneak that never fails to convert

> Cousins to Paul for a yard as Ryans covers well

> Slant to Garcon broken up by Williams, as the Green defense has finally adjusted to not many deep balls

> Third and 9 is a big damned deal, and what should have been a delay flag works out as the QB misses WR Ryan Grant on a deep cross

> Sproles nearly goes long on a punt return, and wow, he's been so good; 18 yards of electricity

> Foles doesn't see Orakpo's pressure and barely avoids a fumble

> Foles to Matthwes, nice out and conversion

> McCoy dances for a yard as Foles gets caught in the wash

> Foles to Maclin for a handful on serious pressure again

> Third and 6 is a big damned deal, and it's a miss to Sproles on a well-defensed play

> Illegal formation gives the Slurs five yards, and that might be the first mistake from the STs today

> No pressure, and it's nightmare time as Cousins hits Jackson for the 81-yard score against Williams

> Allen with the mistake in coverage as well, and yeah, um, that's kind of why you don't let Pro Bowl talent just walk for no compensation to a division rival

> Slurs 27, Eagles 27

> The Eagle PA plays "Sabotage" after the Jackson score, and yeah, that's accurate

> McCoy for four and a borderline late hit, but, well, RBs

> Foles to Maclin for 13 on good protection

> Foles with a near pick on a late snap and probable defensive offsides, and yes, they are out of sorts with all of the subs

> McCoy for 4 as the clock goes deep, and this game is all kinds of going away right now

> Third and 6 is a big deal, and Matthews makes a great catch... for five yards, not six

> DC gets it right back, and has everything going for them right now

> Morris gets 7 on a play where he should have lost 3, as Graham makes contact but not a tackle

> Tie game after three, and anyone's game

> Cousins to Garcon, and it's starting to look easy again for the Slurs

> Morris goes down for no gain, then a loss to Garcon as CB Brandon Boykin makes a play; post-whistle jawing

> Third and 10 is a miss from Cousins to Roberts, as the Slur offense hasn't been as sharp in the second half

> Big punt into the end zone for 30 yards of net and no shot for Sproles

> McCoy for 2, and you'd never know from this game that he's special

> Foles misses Maclin, running crazy open on a deep ball, and that's painful to watch

> Third and 8 is huge, and it's a totally read screen to TE Brent Celek that would have lost 10 if it had been complete

> Hating the play calls that are not testing the bad Slur DBs nearly enough, especially with all of the flags today

> Poor punt by Jones gives the Slurs the balls art midfield

> Need a turnover something fierce, but instead it's a perfect ball and catch to Cousins; Allen doesn't get there soon enough to break it up

> Morris for a few, and red zone defense has to do something unexpected to keep it a game

> Cousins with all day, throws it away on 2nd and 7, and I can't recall what it's called when the QB is tackled while trying to pass

> Cox actually gets a sack on an unstopped delay of game flag, then Boykin takes a hit, and for the ninth time today, terrible officiating that barely keeps the game in order

> Third and 12 is a poor screen and drop to Jackson, and the Slurs do seem weak when the clock ticks

> Forbath donks one off the upright to not take the lead, and my laundry is lucky, lucky, lucky

> Foles misses Ertz high for a pick, multiple Eagles down after the call, brawl afterards and good Lord, this got out of hand fast

> That's a clear incomplete, Foles got de-cleated, Old Testament Madness

> Ejection for two players, and none of that happens if the refs don't blow the Not A Pick call

> Green is down to their final five offensive lineman

> I don't know how you get ejected for objecting to your QB getting murdered on a return, which is now a big flag in the NFL

> Foles to WR Jeff Mehel for 16 on 2nd and 20, and if DC can't win a road game against a team without any starting OL, I don't know when they can

> Ertz can't corral a fly, but it's DPI and more and more penalty yards

> Cooper for a few, then Foles misses Ertz on the same fly

> Third and 8 from midfield is all kinds of important... but Maclin can't make the play on the sideline, Kelly throws the challenge flag and might get it

> Another quasi late hit on Foles by Orakpo, not that there's any OL left to stop that sort of thing

> Immense reversal and play by the QB and WR there, first down at the Slur 31

> 2 for 2 on challenges today, and the Reid Era is dead

> Foles to Cooper for 4, then hits Maclin in the end zone for the picture perfect 27-yard score

> I know he's got the career day against Oakland last year, but this has been a stellar day for Foles, especially given the amount of punishment taken

> Eagles 34, Slurs 27, halfway through the fourth

> Need to see fire and results from the defense here and now

> Cousins floats one, Jenkins with the pick, and wow, that was a gift

> Great range and catch by the safety

> McCoy for not much as Kelly tries to run a little clock; this is not always a strength for this team

> Second and 9 is snapped with time on the clock, and McCoy doesn't get nearly enough on a tolerable hole

> Third and 8 with six minutes left is a big damned deal, and Foles misses a wide-open Celek that could have been a killshot touchdown

> Parkey from 51 is dead solid perfect, and yeah, we like our rookie kicker so far

> Eagles 37, Slurs 27 with 5:55 left, and that was a very necessary kick

> Parkey with the touchback and I might have to buy his jersey at this point

> Cousins to Garcon for the 11 yard out, read but still too easy

> Screen to RB Roy Helu, holds not called, goes for 55 yards with Jenkins making the touchdown saving tackle

> Cousins misses Jackson in the end zoen, not very open

> Cousins to Roberts, who makes CB Nolan Carroll miss and gets to the one

> Helu walks in and it's 37-34 with 4 minutes left, and that was as bad a job by the defense as could easily be imagined

> McCoy loses yards, and no, that's not a broken record

> Green with slow tempo, which probably isn't helping

> Another give to McCoy, another lack of burst through a not very big hole, and it's 3rd and long with Kelly not doing much on the play calling

> 3rd and 11 has Foles sailing the ball over Cooper, and that was as bad as easily imaginable

> Big punt by Jones, but a hold by WR Brad Smith makes this worse

> Jones with the worst time for a bad punt, and the Slurs start at the Green 40 with 2:27 left

> Cox stops Morris on first, clock runs down to the 2-minute warning

> Cousins misses Jackson on an out, third and 11 looms...

> Huge play here, and it's Cousins trying Roberts, but Boykins makes a great close and deflect

> Fourth and 10 is a go for the Slurs, with a timeout first

> Cousins misses Garcon, just a gift, and Cary Williams is a lucky, luck man who plays for a lucky, lucky team

> McCoy loses a yard, and this might be the worst game he's ever played

> Foles to TE James Casey on a rollout and ballsy call and throw, and that's just perfect by the QB

> Kneeldowns end it, and the Eagles are 3-0... somehow

> As smoke and mirrors as this team has looked, that's two straight wins where they got three and outs to seal the game

> The home team is now the first team in NFL history to win their first 3 games, after trailing by 10+ points

Top 10 NFL Week 3 Ad Questions

Siri Goes Upstate, Lives on Farm
10) Did Verizon really think through this whole Siri as Old Yeller campaign?

9) Is there a substance that Pizza Hut won't stuff into a crust?

8) Can't the guys at Kenny Rogers' card game switch to hold'em to help cut down on the singing?

7) If I buy a Silverado, am I required to use it in picturesque parts of America?

6) Isn't it incredibly expensive to have Direct TV in your life, since it inspires huge property damage?

5) Is Burger King's attempt to change the currency part of their Tim Horton's move to cheat America out of paying taxes?

4) Are PayPal users prone to meth-ish animation dreams?

3) Does Matthew McConaughey talking to himself make anyone, ever, want to buy a car?

2) Has Miller heard that subliminal advertising doesn't involve shots that are long enough to really notice?

1) Hasn't everyone already deleted the U2 album off their iPhone?

Friday, September 19, 2014

Top 10 reasons why Roger Goodell isn't resigning

Goodell With Wife, Mother, Target
10) The new conduct policy will solve all issues involved in a league populated by violent and athletically gifted men who have survived relentless lifelong culling to achieve sudden wealth and fame

9) Goodell knows he's going to get it right going forward, which must be nice, given the ridiculous number of things he's gotten wrong

8) Ignorance was not an excuse for Sean Payton and the Saints, but that was a team issue, and as this is a league thing, it's totally not the same

7) The NFL's advertisers haven't made him resigning a point yet, and, well, that's the only entity that's subject to public opinion that the NFL listens to

6) When you acknowledge a mistake and make changes, that totally makes you the best choice to retain a job that requires you to be airtight on PR

5) Once he says he's not going to resign, that will end all media and the public's cries for his head

4) Proctor & Gamble removing its sponsorship doesn't really matter, because it's not as if they are a major advertiser that people have heard of

3) If he resigns, the media might start asking the owners all of the questions that they have been asking him, and we can't have that

2) His wife has asked him to spend less time at home with his family, and given what tends to happen with NFL personnel who undergo professional setbacks, we should probably honor that request

1) If you were making more money than any player in the league, answer to no one, and got off on ultimate power regardless of your staggering incompetence and corruption, you'd keep the gig, too

FTT Off-Topic: Running Away With Me

As always with FTT O-T, Not Sports And Not Apologizing; read or not.

I've been married twice, which surprises most people who have only met the Shooter Wife and Kids. The first one was a post-college experience, a mutual dance into a mine field, and it ended without property or kids or maturity or any contact at all post-relationship. It took me years to understand that I shared blame for what happened, and I really hope never to be so sad ever again. (How bad was it? I haven't spoken to her in something like 18 years, probably never will again, and lost the ability to taste for 18 months after it was over. It's still something of a miracle to me that I tried again, and again, and eventually got to today, where I've been married for 15 years and fully expect to remain married for the rest of my days, God willing and the creek don't rise.)

Anyhoo... today, I got a piece of mail. From a process server for an insurance company, telling me that my ex mother-in-law is dead. She was, as far as I can tell, a major antagonistic force in my ex's life, a domineering and lonely figure who raised her on her own, insisted that she stop her college education to move back home, and didn't show up at our wedding because, well, it was a very long flight or something. I never actually met her. And now she's gone, and there's a life insurance policy, and someone wants to find my ex and hasn't been able to. (She has, in all likelihood, changed her name twice, and doesn't appear to be on Facebook. More on that below.)

So I have cause to help someone find her. And a mutual friend who also lost touch with her a decade or so ago, but knew enough to give me her most likely name and general location. And the name of her likely second husband, who *does* seem to be on FB.

So I pinged the guy. I have no idea if he'll ever see the message, or reply to it, or whether he's still involved with her. If he is, I don't doubt that she'd refuse to take a gift from her mother, even after she's in the ground; that was the level of that relationship, or it least it was in the mid-90s, and it's hard to see how it would have gotten better with a lawyer needing to find me to fulfill a life insurance payout. Hell, it might even be a bad idea for her, if the woman left debts or other obligations. I have no idea.

But, well, my sense of what's the right hing to do is to try to pass the information and let her do with it as she pleases. If I can get that done through some guy I've never met, or if there's a little awkwardness, so be it. The right thing to do isn't always easy.

So then I ran. My usual route, which takes over an hour and hasn't been done in a while, thanks to last week's trip to Indy for the MNF game. On roads with no traffic at late night hours, when my mind can just wander. And it plays out the whole conversation in my mind, with decisions on what I'd share if she was curious about my last two decades, and a whole host of rather unlikely events.

And then I get back to the desk, and there's no response on FB, and, well, likely will never be.

Because that's what running is like. A long amount of time spent doing what your body needs to be healthy, while your mind just goes to Crazy Town.

Moving on...

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